I’m a self-pronounced sucker for books. Show me a pile of books anywhere – be it the street, someone’s shelf or even a dungeon (actually it’s better if it’s a dungeon) – and you’ve lost me until I decide it’s about time to return. Leave me with a book and I cease to exist in the world of the living. It’s an addiction – harmless compared to most others and the only area I need help is with finding space where my prized possessions can find a haven (an ever growing need post my exit from the latest book exhibition that hits town).
In a previous post, I’ve written about the effect ‘reading’ has on me. And it’s come up in conversations with friends and in write-ups I’ve read that by the sheer beauty through which a reader is drawn into the world of the author and into the minds of the characters to not just experience what they experience but also understand ‘the why’ behind it makes reading books a lot more of an intimate relationship than perhaps the ones we share with the people around us.
It’s to this point that I’d like to add that books based on real people and true stories make for an even more interesting read simply because there is a different thrill in knowing the story of someone you haven’t met but exists somewhere at the kerb around the globe.
But finding that ‘right book’ – the one that makes you exclaim ‘this is my kind of book’ – has always been a challenge for me. A couple of years ago when I’d walked into a book exhibition I bore an extremely confused look because I didn’t know where to begin. Too many rows of books to scan through; too spoilt for choice and I didn’t want to walk away having missed that one book that was probably just ‘right for me’ and it made me think: Now that's a lot like love!
Back to books, seldom have recommendations from friends worked well for me. And there’s no secret formula to finding ‘the’ book; sometimes reading up books by the same author work out well (sometimes they don’t) and sometimes you launch yourself into reading an entire series (think Inheritance Trilogy, Millennium Trilogy, Song of Fire and Ice/Game of Thrones etc etc etc). Now of these, I’ve only read the Millennium Trilogy in its entirety. I didn’t ever get started with Harry Potter or Lord of the Rings (yes, I heard the gasp – heard one too many in the past too).
And that’s the point: something about the book has to resonate beyond the superficial level. Beyond the hype the publishing house is able to create or the popularity of the film based on the book is intended to generate.
What ‘the right book’ does is, it cracks me up, leaving me giggling and grinning in public spaces least bothered about what people make of my sudden cackle while simultaneously knocks a blow straight into my guts, wrenching my insides through the most simplest wordplay when characters dialogue mirroring life as it is!
What’s true for a book is also true for any kind of companionship (after all my daily commute to work is not without this companion). And what a right companion can do is be honest, be present and be non-judgmental.
And what’s even better is that if your stars are aligned, you can enjoy the company of two of the right things: the right book with the right companion. Because sometimes a companion listens and sometimes a book talks (it’s in those moments that you lift your gaze from the page and stare into the horizon for a brief moment to take in a certain revelation).
To conclude, “In the case of good books, the point is not to see how many of them you can get through, but rather how many can get through to you.” ― Mortimer J. Adler.
In keeping with the theme of companionship, is what's true for books also true for people, then?